On Death and Grief
I think and talk about death and grief a lot by myself, to my friends and family. Mostly because there’s a lot of cancer in my family and my Grandma recently passed away in December. The other day I was having breakfast with a few of my girlfriends and we were talking about how some people don’t have a safe place to talk about about death and grief. To have an emotional outlet. Perhaps they don’t want to burden others with their emotions, that when they’ve shared stories before the response they’ve received was dismissive or they don’t know how to approach the subject. I wanted to create an open conversation about death and grief to provide support and my experience for you to hopefully be able to relate to or find some comfort in.
My earliest memory of death was when I was 5 years old. My Great Granddad passed away. I can see small snippets of me standing on sand, next to his charcoal grey stone tombstone. Honestly I don’t remember too much, because I was so young.
5 years ago my Aunty passed away and that was the first time I experienced death at an age where I was able to fully comprehend what was happening. Navigating my grief was quite difficult. For a year I thought I had grieved, but one day out of no where I started crying uncontrollably. I honestly didn’t know how to grieve. I thought that there was a specific process to follow, that you had to feel sad all the time. The thing is I didn’t feel sad all the time and I felt guilty about it. When I did feel sad I would push it away, I bottled it all up until the day I exploded. With time, learning to express my emotions and openly up to people I trust really helped me grieve.
In December, my Grandma passed away. Navigating grief again you’d think I would be better at processing it, and in a way I did. But it happened at a different stage of my life. I was still grieving London and settling back into Perth. I was spending time with my Grandma where she was still doing all the things she usually does, cooking and pottering around the garden. Although I was fully aware that her quality of life was decreasing, it had been for years. I was still shocked when I saw her after a year. It really hit me hard and just when I was accepting the fact that this could be it, she passed away. It was as much a shock, as it was expected. I’m so happy that she’s so longer in pain and living a better life in heaven. But the hardest thing for me is comprehending that she is no longer here. That the things I want to share with her I can’t.
It really helps that my family is really good at communicating, understanding each others ways of dealing with grief and so, so supportive. I will always miss, love and think about her. That will never go away, but you learn to live your life without them here with you physically. The smallest things remind me of my Grandma: succulents and cacti, fried chicken, grapefruit, certain words and phrases, crickets and dragons flies. It’s really calming when this happens because it makes me feel like she’s still around, and that I’m still sharing parts of my life with her.
But grief is not just for the death of a loved one. It could be a memory, a home, a relationship, some bad news. Moving back to Perth from London, that felt like a massive breakup. Even though it was my decision it still hurts. London was my home, where I grew, found happiness, found myself. But I knew I needed to be in Perth. To this day I still grieve London, but it’s different now. I’m moving on, making Perth my present. I’m building myself up again.
My best advice to anyone navigating grief is find a healthy way to express it whether it journalling, talk to someone you feel comfortable with or art, whatever works for you. Let yourself feel the grief, don’t push it away because emotions left un-dealt with will only build up to a breakdown or a panic attack. Have patience and be gentle with yourself, healing takes time.
Grief is a physiological loss with a phycological presence. We all experience grief from time to time, no matter the scale of the situation just know that how you’re feeling is valid. It’s all apart of the human experience. It’s an emotion, and like all emotions makes us relatable and draws us in closer to the people we love. It helps us create a connection.
If anyone would like to share their experience with grief and how they’ve dealt with it, please leave a comment. I think that everyone and myself can benefit by opening this conversation xx